ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Narratives of Natural Resource Corruption and Environmental Regulatory Reforms in India

The shifting discourses on the purposes, objectives, and forms of India’s environment regulations are discussed within the broader domestic, political, and economic contexts. The environmental law reforms are being designed to legalise and protect financial investments in projects, irrespective of their environmental performance, and to monetise their impacts and damages.


India’s environmental regulatory regime, meant to control the environmental and social impacts of resource-intensive and potentially harmful projects, has been going through a major overhaul since 2015. In this paper, we discuss the shifting discourses on the purposes, objectives, and forms of India’s environment regulations within the broader domestic political economic contexts. The environmental regulatory system was politicised in the electoral campaigns leading up to the 2014 general elections. This politicisation produced the conditions by which the incumbent government could introduce a series of “reforms” to enable greater privatisation of the economy. The changes to environmental regulations can be understood as directed by and responding to these measures.

The first part of this paper outlines a broad overview and critique of India’s environmental regulatory framework. Then the paper discusses the politicisation of economic development and environmental regulations through discourses of natural resource corruption and inefficiency in public governance. Later, the paper discusses the reforms to environmental regulations along specific themes and reflects on the implications of these changes, which include conflicts due to reduced democratic engagement, ignoring the legacy of illegal project operations and their long-term impacts on communities and ecologies, and the greater criminalisation of the poor for their use of the environment.

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Updated On : 23rd Feb, 2022
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